No white smoke over Brexit talks

Morning Note

A grey and dreich start in London but it ought to clear. Rather like the weather, it’s all looking a bit murky as far as Brexit goes this morning. European stock markets opened cautiously on Monday with Brexit risks squarely in focus as talks over the weekend seem to have delivered little real progress. There are various reports circulating this morning, but the one that counts will be the official statement. Reports of a breakthrough on fishing rights seems to be premature, with UK officials saying the EU is ‘literally making it up’. There is no white smoke yet – the two sides continue to talk and work towards a deal. A complicating factor this week is the internal market bill, which is going through the Commons again and has really got up the noses of the EU. The dealmakers will not let that stop the talking, but it could create headlines.  

 

Sterling risks to Brexit no-deal endgames were exposed this morning as the chatter was less optimistic than many of us thought it would be, with reports in one paper indicating Boris Johnson is ready to walk away within hours. Moreover, confusion over progress on fishing has clearly unnerved the market. GBPUSD slipped from 1.34 overnight to 1.3280 in early trade, a chunky move to start the session and reflective of both the pound’s sensitivity to headlines and the severe downside risks from a no-deal Brexit. Latest CFTC figures show a sharp reduction in net long positioning on sterling. 

 

US stocks roared to a new record high on Friday. The S&P 500 climbed 0.9% to 3,699, closing at the highs of the day. A lacklustre US jobs report showing just +245k jobs were created last month lifted stocks and saw bond yields rise as it ought to incentivize Congress to pass a stimulus bill this year. Bad news is good news again – for now markets are happy to jump the shark and look ahead to stimulus bridging the worst of the crisis until vaccines drive economic recovery in 2021. There was some serious curve steepening action on Friday with the US 10-year yield rallying above 0.98% and a big clear out at 1% is now ‘on’. The 2yr/10yr spread is now its highest in almost three years. 

 

Stimulus seems a lot more likely and a $908bn bipartisan package could be passed as early as today. The weaker jobs report combined with surging case numbers across the US has left lawmakers with little choice, albeit the deal on the table has been drawing criticism from both sides of the Washington divide. All Americans who wish to take a vaccine should be able to by the second quarter of 2021, the US Health and Human Services head Alex Azar said. 

 

Data is light today, but Asian markets were mixed after China’s exports rose over 20% in November, the fastest clip in three years. German industrial production rose 3.2% in October, beating expectations but likely to the best for some time with November’s restrictions kicking in. Bavaria has just announced a much stricter lockdown lasting until early January. 

  

FTSE hits post-pandemic high, oil bid on OPEC deal

Morning Note

Risk is bid and the FTSE 100 edged out further gains in early trade on Friday to take out the previous post-trough peak struck on Jun 8th, rallying north of 6,530 to make a new post-pandemic high. The move coincides with an increasingly bullish stance on UK equities being taken by investors on hopes for a broad cyclical recovery in 2021 led by vaccines and a UK-EU trade deal being struck. Meanwhile market sentiment may improve as a US stimulus package inches closer to becoming real, with lawmakers getting behind the bipartisan $908bn package on the table now. News that Pfizer would only deliver half the vaccines it had planned to this year due to supply chain problems took a little of the shine off risk and the S&P 500 yesterday after it had struck a record intra-day high. 

 

Brexit talks seem to be going somewhere and yet nowhere. The main barriers of fishing and the level playing field still frustrate. Nevertheless, sterling rallied to its strongest since the Boris Bounce of Dec 2019, briefly hitting $1.35. A lot of that was down to dollar weakness but we also see signs the market is getting upbeat on sterling ahead of an anticipated Brexit deal. Reports suggest the EU (France) brought in new demands at the 11th hour but overall, it’s been the usual smattering of ‘sources’ and reports highlighting divergences amid tentative signs of progress. One ‘senior British source’ said the prospect of securing a deal in the next few days was ‘receding’. We now run the risk of the internal market bill, which returns to the House of Commons next week, being debated and passed by MPs just as talks are at a critical phase, which will likely increase tensions on both sides as the legislation has stirred up unease in the EU. Talks are to continue over the weekend with a view to having a deal before the EU Council meeting of Dec 10th/11th. If we don’t have a deal by then we start to be worried that the talks falter and it becomes a Mexican standoff. 

 

Wall Street was mixed – the S&P 500 closed out marginally weaker though the Dow Jones popped higher thanks to a 6% gain for Boeing. Shares in the aircraft maker rose after Ryanair committed to buying 75 more 737 Max jets. This is a big vote of confidence in the troubled jet and is a welcome boost for Boeing. Ryanair clearly has an eye for a bargain.  

 

Tesla shares rose another 4% to $593 after a Goldman Sachs upgrade. The investment bank raised the12-month price target to $780 from $455 Analysts said the shift toward battery electric vehicle adoption is accelerating more quickly than previously anticipated whilst battery prices are falling faster than previously expected, which improves the economics of EV ownership. Elon Musk told employees to rein in spending though, warning that investors are giving the stock a lot of credit for profitability and would “will immediately get crushed like a soufflé under a sledgehammer”, if they miss on forecasts. 

 

Crude oil prices rose after OPEC agreed a deal with allies to gradually raise output next year. Although it was arguably a slightly less ambitious extension of cuts than had been hoped for, it reflects a divergence of opinion among major producers and the fact less oil is coming on the market in January has put a bid under prices. OPEC+ will gradually raise production by 500k bpd from next month, less than the scheduled increase of 2m bpd under the old agreement. Ministers will now meet monthly to agree to rolling cuts. WTI (Jan) traded at $46.50, its highest since March. The question now is really about compliance, which has been strong overall but unevenly distributed – will the agreement on paper actually pan out on the ground? 

Face-to-face Brexit talks resume, FTSE is the laggard

Morning Note

Face-to-face (or is that mask-to-mask?) Brexit talks are to resume in London this weekend, perhaps indicating a last drive to get a deal agreed.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier, who is travelling to Britain this evening, called for an ‘urgent’ meeting of European fisheries ministers today ahead of the resumption. Given that this has been one of the three main barriers to agreeing to a trade deal, a meeting of this kind so late in the day may indicate there is a broad framework agreed with the UK, at least on fishing rights.

Barnier is still playing it cool, with a flash this morning saying he told EU national envoys he cannot say at this stage whether a deal is possible. One senior diplomat said Barnier’s presentation was ‘not a particularly bright picture’. I take all this with a pinch of salt – a usual underplaying of the hand as the real work is progressing behind closed doors.

Although it may be a little early to call this, with the fisheries meeting and resumption of in-person talks, there could be a statement over the weekend when markets are closed that is material, which may lead to gapping on Sunday night when FX markets reopen down under.

Cable was steady in the middle of the 1.33-34 region this morning. The exact timing of any announcement is still a question, but GBP support thus far indicates the market has a positive view – big downside risks if it’s no deal. Upside to 1.40 perhaps on a comprehensive trade deal. It’s crunch time for GBP, while USD is starting to bite. DXY retains a bearish bias under 92 as it grinds towards the key horizontal support at 91.70.

European stocks edged a little higher though the FTSE 100 dropped again ahead of Black Friday curtailed session in the US later. European bourses moved tentatively higher but the UK market was the laggard in early trade, sliding almost 1%. The NYSE closes at 1pm eastern time, with the bond market shutting an hour later. Largely we are in a holding pattern until we get greater direction on the pace and durability of a reopening next year. AstraZeneca says it will carry out further global trials after doubts were raised about the results of its clinical trials announced this week.

Economic data is light today, but China’s industrial profits rose 28% in October, rising at the fastest clip in nine years. Black Friday might get some attention for the likes of Amazon, Asos, AO World etc, but it’s all a swizz. Most of the so-called deals are not real deals. Hats off to Next, M&S, Wilko and B&M for not taking part in this dreadful US import.

Oil moved lower ahead of next week’s key OPEC+ meeting in Vienna. WTI (Jan) eased back to take a $44 handle, having risen above $46 earlier this week after EIA inventories on Wednesday showed a surprise draw. The rally through November has closely matched that of the equity market recovery and rotation, which suggests it is largely being driven sentiment and an improving economic outlook next year.

OPEC and allies are expected to delay the planned 2m bpd taper in January for three months. With prices having stabilised, the requirement to do more than that has diminished: 2.2m less production over three months buys time and allows optionality to extend if required. As ever, there is uncertainty over the decision that may affect prices near-term. Beyond OPEC+, watch those gasoline inventory builds and possible move towards tighter restrictions in the US as Covid cases keep rising.

Week Ahead: Brexit deal on the horizon? Plus Spending Review & PMIs take focus

Week Ahead

Brexit tops the agenda, again, this week as a deal might finally be on the horizon. Elsewhere, Chancellor Sunak is ready to showcase the latest government spending review, while PMI releases come thick and fast across the UK, EU and US. What will next week bring?

Brexit

A final end to Brexit negotiations may be in sight after years of posturing and circular negotiations. Michel Barnier is expected to brief member states on Friday 27th November. Could a deal really be struck?

The UK has finally been willing to compromise on key sticking points, such as competition rules.

Optimism has also been caused in the reshuffling of the senior government advisor deck as the more hardcore “leave at any cost” voices in Number 10 have lost a lot of their loudness.

But any optimistic feeling should be cooled by scepticism. This still a very big maybe. Certain countries, like France, may object to fisheries outcomes, and keep negotiations going.

GBP/USD is currently holding at over 1.32, but any further rallies could be tempered by the fierceness of UK/EU negotiations at this stage.

It’s clear we’re not out of the Brexit woods yet, so what will next week bring?

Spending Review

November 25th will see UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak conclude his 2020 Annual Spending Review.

Essentially, it will act as a watered-down Autumn Statement, and provide a look into government spending plans for the coming months.

This is a one-year spending review, rather than the normal 3 to –4-year outlook. After all, 2020 hasn’t exactly been a “normal” year, and spending has taken a different tack to regular outlooks as the country continues its pandemic battle.

The spending review’s key talking points are:

  • How will he treat coronavirus spending – Will he create a separate “Covid reserve” fund for instance?
  • The shape of Brexit spending plans – With a deal still looming, what will Brexit-related spending look like?
  • The overall generosity of the Chancellor’s spending plans – How deep will he dig into the UK’s pockets?
  • What happened to prior commitments – Has he actually stuck to prior spending promises?
  • The state of public sector pay – Will front line workers see extra in their pay packets?
  • Infrastructure & investment – Will we be seeing any extra infrastructure spending, especially in light of the proposed 2030 ban on internal-combustion vehicle sales?
  • Broader outlook for tax, spending, and public finances – What are his more general plans, and how will the pandemic shake them up?

PMIs

It’s a PMI bonanza next week. New data will be released by EU member states, the US, and the UK.

October’s PMI release was full of optimism for the US, indicating that its economy was still growing strongly that month. Manufacturing, in particular, performed well. Business overall express positive sentiment, as it eyes up further stimulus packages.

The EU outlook was not so rosy. October data has put forecasts in a recessionary mood. Manufacturing is below the global index, while services continue to struggle in lockdown phase 2. A double-dip could be on the way in Q4, but we’ll have to see what the new data brings up.

The UK also faced a backslide after an optimistic September. October brought similar conditions to the EU, with services slipping and manufacturing also underperforming. Output is roughly now 10% under pre-pandemic levels.

US economic data

In addition to its PMI releases, the US has more economic confidence indicators up its sleeves to reveal next week.

Firstly, University of Michigan Consumer Confidence data will be unveiled. October’s edged forward against September’s, and perhaps the PMI optimism will leak into higher consumer confidence?

A new batch of US unemployment data will also be released. Unemployment claims have been fluctuating in recent weeks but appear to be on a downward trend. Claims from week beginning November 9th moved from 757,000 to 709,000, so will the slide continue?

Major Economic Data

Date Time (GMT) Currency Event
Sun Nov 22 9:45pm NZD Retail Sales q/q
NZD Core Retail Sales q/q
10:00pm AUD Flash Manufacturing PMI
AUD Flash Services PMI
Mon Nov 23 All Day JPY Bank Holiday
8:15am EUR French Flash Services PMI
EUR French Flash Manufacturing PMI
8:30am EUR German Flash Manufacturing PMI
EUR German Flash Services PMI
9:00am EUR Flash Manufacturing PMI
EUR Flash Services PMI
9:30am GBP Flash Manufacturing PMI
GBP Flash Services PMI
2:45pm USD Flash Manufacturing PMI
USD Flash Services PMI
Tue Nov 24 7:00am EUR German Final GDP q/q
7:45am EUR French Prelim GDP q/q
9:00am EUR German ifo Business Climate
11:00am GBP CBI Realized Sales
3:00pm USD CB Consumer Confidence
USD Richmond Manufacturing Index
8:00pm NZD RBNZ Financial Stability Report
Wed Nov 25 12:30am AUD Construction Work Done q/q
5:00am JPY BOJ Core CPI y/y
EUR ECB Financial Stability Review
1:30pm USD Prelim GDP q/q (second release)
USD Unemployment Claims
USD Core Durable Goods Orders m/m
USD Durable Goods Orders m/m
USD Goods Trade Balance
USD Prelim GDP Price Index q/q
USD Prelim Wholesale Inventories m/m
3:00pm USD Revised UoM Consumer Sentiment
USD Core PCE Price Index m/m
USD New Home Sales
USD Personal Income m/m
USD Personal Spending m/m
USD Revised UoM Inflation Expectations
Tentative GBP UK One Year Spending Review
3:30pm USD Crude Oil Inventories
5:00pm USD Natural Gas Storage
7:00pm USD FOMC Meeting Minutes
Thu Nov 26 12:30am AUD Private Capital Expenditure q/q
7:00am EUR German GfK Consumer Climate
Tentative GBP Monetary Policy Report Hearings
12:30pm EUR ECB Monetary Policy Meeting Accounts
All Day USD Bank Holiday
11:30pm JPY Tokyo Core CPI y/y
Fri Nov 27 7:45am EUR French Consumer Spending m/m
EUR French Prelim CPI m/m

Key Earnings Data

Date Company Event
23-Nov Prosus N.V. Q2 2021 Earnings
24-Nov Medtronic PLC Q2 2021 Earnings
23-Nov Naspers Interim results
25-Nov Deere & Co. (John Deere) Q4 2020 Earnings
24-Nov Xiaomi Q3 2020 Earnings
24-Nov VMware Inc. Q3 2021 Earnings
24-Nov Autodesk Inc. Q3 2021 Earnings
24-Nov Analog Devices Inc. Q4 2020 Earnings
24-Nov Dell Technologies Q3 2021 Earnings
24-Nov Compass Group plc Finals
24-Nov AO World Interim results
24-Nov Best Buy Co. Inc. Q3 2021 Earnings
24-Nov HP Inc (HPQ) Q4 2020 Earnings
24-Nov Dollar Tree Inc Q3 2020 Earnings
25-Nov United Utilities Interim results

Stocks ease after Moderna rally, Tesla leaps on S&P500 inclusion, OPEC eyes extending cuts

Morning Note

More good news on the vaccine front has delivered another confidence boost to global markets with Wall Street building on Friday’s record highs and European markets nearing breakout from the post-trough bottom-to-top range.

Moderna’s positive vaccine news came exactly one week after Pfizer’s with much the same impact on the market. It may not quite be the game-changer of a week ago, but it adds further support to some of the back-to-normal, value type rotation which has been the outstanding impact on markets so far and had reasserted itself by last Friday after a mid-week pause.

The vaccine news sent the FTSE 100 to close to its best level since the pandemic-induced sell-off.

The early June intra-day high at 6,511 is now only a few points above, whilst the record close at 6,484 is near. News that Moderna’s vaccine is almost 95% effective was not a huge surprise to the markets but underscores the faith being shown in the rotational trade out of growth and into value areas of the market.

This would tend to favour the FTSE vs say the DAX.

Again, as we saw with the Pfizer news, the Nasdaq lagged the Russell 2000, but all boats were lifted by the vaccine update. Among the biggest risers yesterday dwell in the airline/travel arena Rolls-Royce, Whitbread, IAG and Melrose, whilst Carnival, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean and United Airlines led the way on the S&P 500 and Boeing notched big gains at the top of the Dow. Ocado and JustEat declined

In the meantime, we may need to endure more hardships – imminent vaccines are the perfect cover for maintaining lockdowns for longer. The economic recovery is going to be patchy and uneven across sectors as lockdowns and other restrictions – not least the fear factor remaining a strong driver of consumer habits – but the vaccine-led ‘back to normal’ direction is now at last clear.

Poor old AstraZeneca shares fell as Moderna (+9% on the day) made the announcement – there is a risk that the high efficacy of the Pfizer/Biontech and Moderna trials kills off some competing candidates in development.

Pfizer shares also fell 4% as its vaccine is not the only show in town. Biontech says its vaccine will be ready for delivery in early January.

The IATA warned that travel restrictions would curtail the rollout of vaccines – perhaps talking its book a bit but it’s got a point when it calls for the reopening of key passenger routes.

Today, European markets were flat to a little negative as investors looked to take stock of the pre-vaccine, post-pandemic outlook. Asian shares were mixed but of note the Nikkei 225 in Japan trades at its highest in almost 30 years.

Tesla shares in Frankfurt rose over 10% after gaining 13% in US after-hours trade following news that the car maker will be admitted to the S&P 500 in December. It’s now less than 10% off its all-time high. Talk of possible inclusion in the S&P 500 was a big factor in driving the stock higher earlier this year and the disappointment of being initially snubbed left the shares down. Inclusion in the index will require funds to buy the stock.

Airbnb announced plans to press on with its stock market listing this year despite the obvious hit to the travel sector from the pandemic.

In a filing on Monday the company reported it had made a profit of $219 million in the third quarter, on $1.34 billion in revenue. This was down on a small amount from the $227 million in profit during the same quarter last year – its only profitable quarter in 2019 – which was on $1.65 billion in revenue.

However, the first half of the year was exceptionally tough for Airbnb as it chalked up net losses of $916 million on revenue of $1.18 billion. It plans to list on the Nasdaq under the ticker ABNB.

The Asian recovery story has been helping to lift the mood – China industrial production up 6.9% in the 12 months to October and Japan’s 5% Q3 GDP rebound are encouraging, whilst a mega trade pact involving 15 key Asian economies is fuelling optimism. Greater Chinese influence in the region is assured – good for GDP but not so good for many other aspects of free society.

The euro shrugged off fears of a full-blown crisis within the EU after Hungary and Poland vetoed the €1.8tn budget and the €750 pandemic recovery fund. As ever with the EU, a way will be found to get around the problem. But it does raise a risk that the ultimate fund is punier than it might have been and arrives far too late. EURUSD trades at week highs above 1.1870 at send time.

Brexit – the endgame approaches. We are in the final few days of talks if, realistically, both sides want to get the treaty ratified at home.

The departure of Dominic Cummings is a problem for the UK government as it seems to strengthen the ‘deal at any cost’ voices within, which weakens the British position and likely as not has only led to the EU hardening its stance.

Expect lots of sources comments on the wires reflecting the posturing that is still going on, but the real work is taking place out of the public gaze. David Frost, the UK’s top negotiator, is reported to have said a deal could be done by next Tuesday.

Cable is steady at 1.32.

Rear-view economic data is meaningless right now due to the combination of near-term lockdowns scrubbing a few percentage points off activity and growth, and the prospect of vaccines seeing everything back to normal next year.

Nevertheless, US retail sales on tap later seen at +0.5% (+0.6% core).

Retailers have done well during the pandemic as consumers have spent less on experiences like holidays and dining out and more on stuff from gadgets to groceries.

But how have consumers in the US fared since the end of $600-a-week stimulus cheques? September saw a blow-out for the sector as retail sales grew at the fastest pace in three months, rising 1.9% after a +0.6% move in August.

Consumers have built up a lot of savings and are ready to deploy these in the economy – October may see another strong month though the election may be a factor.

In September department stores sales rose 9.7%, whilst clothing sales were up 11%, but are still down 7.3% and 12.5% respectively on last year. Meanwhile, Fed chair Jay Powell is to deliver a keynote speech at the 25th Bay Area Business Hall of Fame event, where Nancy Pelosi will be attending.

Oil prices were supported as the JMMC meetings continue with a clear indication that OPEC and allies are looking to postpone the planned increase in production in January by several months.

As part of the deal struck back in April between OPEC and allies led by Russia, daily production cuts would be reduced by 2 million barrels per day from January.

However, with demand slowing amid fresh lockdowns and stifled consumer confidence, it’s thought that OPEC+ will maintain cuts of 7.7 million bpd for a further three to six months, instead of tapering the cut to 5.7 million bpd in January. Forecasts for weaker demand in 2021, with the surplus seen at a max of 1.5m bpd vs 0.2bpd under previous forecast, indicate that OPEC+ will need to act.

Week Ahead: US consumer in focus with retail sales and earnings

Week Ahead

Will there or won’t there be a Brexit deal this week? Who knows, talks continue for now but the deadline approaches. Meanwhile we are looking to the US consumer this week with retail sales figures for October and earnings updates from Wal-Mart, Home Depot and Target among others. 

Brexit?

At the time of writing, Brexit talks are rumbling on but with no end in sight. We have a seen a lot of the usual posturing but so far the two sides remain at odds over the so-called level playing field and fishing rights. As ever, the pound will remain sensitive to headline risk. GBPUSD rallied to 1.33 last week, hitting its highest since early September, but how will markets position in the even of a cliff-edge no deal exit from the transition period at the end of December? 

US retail sales & earnings 

US consumer confidence will be tested this week as we look at the retail sales figures for October and some big earnings updates from the likes of Wal-Mart, TargetHome Depot, Lowe’s and TJX. Retailers have done well during the pandemic as consumers have spent less on experiences like holidays and dining out and more on stuff from gadgets to groceries. But how have consumers in the US fared since the end of $600-a-week stimulus cheques?   

September saw a blow-out month as retail sales grew at the fastest pace in three months, rising 1.9% after a +0.6% move in August. Consumers have built up a lot of savings and are ready to deploy these in the economy – October may see another strong month though the election may be a factor. Department stores sales rose 9.7%, whilst clothing sales were up 11%, but are still down 7.3% and 12.5% respectively on last year. 

Watch the rotation 

Last week saw a big move out of growth and momentum into value and cyclical stocks with the vaccine news from Pfizer driving a reflationary trade. Although there was some moderation in the flows later in the wee, the Nasdaq 100 came under pressure while industrials and the small cap Russell 2000 rallied well. European equities also jumped with the FTSE 100 notably making multi-month highs with its strong cyclical components. Find out what Wall Street’s big investment banks think will happen to the markets this year and in 2021. 

And finally… 

Will Donald Trump continue to press his claims? Georgia is recounting all votes by hand. The market has all but counted out the president, but are investors too sanguine about a potential constitutional crisis in the US? The truth is most Republicans know he has lost but they have one eye on the Georgia Senate run-off votes in January and they appreciate that Trump can get the vote out to counter the Democrats. If the Democrats take both seats, the Senate is split 50:50 with the casting vote in this situation resting with the Vice President. 

Top Economic Data This Week

 

Date  Time (GMT)  Currency   Event 
Sun Nov 15  11:50pm  JPY  Prelim GDP Price Index y/y 
    JPY  Prelim GDP q/q 
Mon Nov 16  12:01am  GBP  Rightmove HPI m/m 
  2:00am  CNH  Fixed Asset Investment 
    CNH Industrial Production y/y 
    CNH  Retail Sales y/y 
    CNH  Unemployment Rate 
  4:30am  JPY  Revised Industrial Production m/m 
    USD  Empire State Manufacturing Index 
  3:30pm  AUD  CB Leading Index m/m 
Tue Nov 17  12:30am  AUD  Monetary Policy Meeting Minutes 
    USD  Core Retail Sales m/m 
    USD  Retail Sales m/m 
    USD  Import Prices m/m 
  2:15pm  USD  Capacity Utilization Rate 
    USD  Industrial Production m/m 
Wed Nov 18  12:30am  AUD  Wage Price Index q/q 
  7:00am  GBP  CPI y/y 
    GBP  Core CPI y/y 
    GBP  PPI Input m/m 
    GBP  PPI Output m/m 
    GBP  RPI y/y 
  9:30am  GBP  HPI y/y 
  10:00am  EUR  Final CPI y/y 
    EUR  Final Core CPI y/y 
  Tentative  GBP  Bank of England Monetary Policy Report Hearings 
  1:30pm  CAD  CPI m/m 
    USD  Building Permits 
    USD  Housing Starts 
  3:30pm  USD  Crude Oil Inventories 
Thu Nov 19  12:30am  AUD  Employment Change 
    AUD  Unemployment Rate 
  7:00am  CHF  Trade Balance 
  9:00am  EUR  Current Account 
  1:30pm  CAD  ADP Non-Farm Employment Change 
    USD  Philly Fed Manufacturing Index 
    USD  Unemployment Claims 
  3:00pm  USD  CB Leading Index m/m 
    USD  Existing Home Sales 
  3:30pm  USD  Natural Gas Storage 
  11:30pm  JPY  National Core CPI y/y 
Fri Nov 20  12:01am  GBP  GfK Consumer Confidence 
  12:30am  JPY  Flash Manufacturing PMI 
  7:00am  EUR  German PPI m/m 
    GBP  Retail Sales m/m 
    GBP  Public Sector Net Borrowing 
  1:30pm  CAD  Core Retail Sales m/m 
    CAD  Retail Sales m/m 
  3:00pm  EUR  Consumer Confidence 
  All Day  All  G20 Meetings 

 

Top Earnings Reports This Week

Don’t forget to tune into XRay for more updates.

 

17-Nov  Walmart  Q3 2021 Earnings 
18-Nov  NVIDIA  Q3 2021 Earnings 
17-Nov  Home Depot  Q3 2020 Earnings 
18-Nov  Lowe’s Companies  Q3 2020 Earnings 
19-Nov  Intuit Inc  Q1 2021 Earnings 
20-Nov  Naspers  Q2 2021 Earnings 
18-Nov  Target Corp  Q3 2020 Earnings 
18-Nov  TJX Cos. Inc  Q3 2021 Earnings 
16-Nov  Vodafone Group  Q2 2021 Earnings 

 

Week Ahead: Election, Brexit risk to continue?

Week Ahead

The US Presidential race should be behind us and investors will turn their attention to the specific policy implications, however Donald Trump does not seem to want to go without a fight. Will markets really care if the final result remains in doubt for a little longer? So far, the mood has been risk-on as the Senate stays Republican. Meanwhile, Brexit trade talks will be of crucial importance to sterling and UK equities as time runs out for a deal. 

 Will Donald Trump leave without a fight? 

 Probably not, but does it matter? At the time of writing, Donald Trump looked odds on to lose the election, but he does not seem to want to go without a legal fight. The president will try every avenue but it’s unclear whether anything can stop Joe Biden becoming president. Markets reacted last week to a Blue White House and Red Senate with relief – it’s good for growth stocks like big tech, less good for value stocks. 

Brexit 

Time is ticking – GBP crosses are susceptible to significant headline risk but for cable 1.30 remains the anchor point. Both sides want a deal, but neither wants one at all costs. If anything, you might say that the economic damage and fiscal-monetary response actually provides cover for a no-deal exit. The informal meeting of heads of state in Berlin scheduled for Nov 16th, by which point Macron, Merkel et al will want to have a text to sign off, is going to be the focus point but stay ready for headlines crossing before. 

Top Economic Data This Week

On the economic data front, most of it is backwards looking now Europe has gone into lockdown and the US is coping with the fallout from the presidential election. Keep eyes on the UK GPD print, whilst the Reserve Bank of New Zealand will make its interest rate call on Wednesday. 

Open the economic calendar in the platform for a full list of events.

Date  Time (GMT)  Currency  Event 
Mon Nov 9  5:00am  JPY  Leading Indicators 
  6:45am  CHF  Unemployment Rate 
  7:00am  EUR  German Trade Balance 
  9:30am  EUR  Sentix Investor Confidence 
  11:50pm  JPY  Bank Lending y/y 
    JPY  Current Account 
Tue Nov 10  12:01am  GBP  BRC Retail Sales Monitor y/y 
  12:30am  AUD  NAB Business Confidence 
  1:30am  CNH  CPI y/y 
    CNH  PPI y/y 
  7:00am  GBP  Claimant Count Change 
    GBP  Average Earnings Index 3m/y 
    GBP  Unemployment Rate 
  7:45am  EUR  French Industrial Production m/m 
  9:00am  EUR  Italian Industrial Production m/m 
  10:00am  EUR  ZEW Economic Sentiment 
    EUR  German ZEW Economic Sentiment 
  11:00am  USD  NFIB Small Business Index 
  3:00pm  USD  JOLTS Job Openings 
  6:01pm  USD  10-y Bond Auction 
  11:30pm  AUD  Westpac Consumer Sentiment 
  11:50pm  JPY  M2 Money Stock y/y 
Wed Nov 11  1:00am  NZD  Official Cash Rate 
    NZD  RBNZ Monetary Policy Statement 
    NZD  RBNZ Rate Statement 
  2:00am  NZD  RBNZ Press Conference 
  6:00am  JPY  Prelim Machine Tool Orders y/y 
  All Day  EUR  French Bank Holiday 
  All Day  CAD  Bank Holiday 
  All Day  USD  Bank Holiday 
  Tentative  GBP  NIESR GDP Estimate 
  11:50pm  JPY  Core Machinery Orders m/m 
    JPY  PPI y/y 
Thu Nov 12  12:01am  GBP  RICS House Price Balance 
  4:30am  JPY  Tertiary Industry Activity m/m 
  7:00am  EUR  German Final CPI m/m 
    GBP  Prelim GDP q/q 
    GBP  Construction Output m/m 
    GBP  GDP m/m 
    GBP  Goods Trade Balance 
    GBP  Index of Services 3m/3m 
    GBP  Industrial Production m/m 
    GBP  Manufacturing Production m/m 
    GBP  Prelim Business Investment q/q 
  9:00am  EUR  ECB Economic Bulletin 
  10:00am  EUR  Industrial Production m/m 
  All Day  EUR  Eurogroup Meetings 
  1:30pm  CAD  NHPI m/m 
    USD  CPI m/m 
    USD  Core CPI m/m 
    USD  Unemployment Claims 
  4:00pm  USD  Crude Oil Inventories 
  7:00pm  USD  Federal Budget Balance 
  9:30pm  NZD  BusinessNZ Manufacturing Index 
  9:45pm  NZD  FPI m/m 
Fri Nov 13  7:30am  CHF  PPI m/m 
  7:45am  EUR  French Final CPI m/m 
  All Day  EUR  ECOFIN Meetings 
  10:00am  EUR  Flash Employment Change q/q 
    EUR  Flash GDP q/q 
    EUR  Trade Balance 
  1:30pm  USD  Core PPI m/m 
    USD  PPI m/m 
  2:30pm  GBP  CB Leading Index m/m 
  3:00pm  USD  Prelim UoM Consumer Sentiment 
    USD  Prelim UoM Inflation Expectations 
  3:30pm  USD  Natural Gas Storage 

 

Top Earnings Reports This Week

Don’t forget to tune into XRay for more updates.

Date  Company   
9-Nov  McDonald’s Corp.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
9-Nov  Softbank Corp.  Q2 2020 Earnings 
10-Nov  adidas  Q3 2020 Earnings 
10-Nov  Deutsche Post AG  Q3 2020 Earnings 
11-Nov  Tencent Holdings Ltd  Q3 2020 Earnings 
11-Nov  Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp  Q3 2020 Earnings 
11-Nov  Air Products and Chemicals Inc.  Q4 2020 Earnings 
11-Nov  Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd  Q3 2020 Earnings 
12-Nov  Walt Disney  Q4 2020 Earnings 
12-Nov  Cisco Inc.  Q1 2021 Earnings 
12-Nov  Siemens AG  Q4 2020 Earnings 
12-Nov  Deutsche Telekom AG  Q3 2020 Earnings 
12-Nov  Merck KGaA  Q3 2020 Earnings 

 

Trump returns, big tech faces antitrust concerns

Morning Note

Don’t be afraid: President Trump returned to the White House, but it might not be for much longer. Whilst Trump almost revelled in his victory over the virus, telling Americans not to fear it, Joe Biden’s lead in the polls is rising. Trump has work to do in the battlegrounds to swing back in his favour.

Wall Street climbs on stimulus hopes

Wall Street rallied as we saw decent bid come through for risk that left the dollar lower and benchmark Treasury yields higher amid hopes that policymakers in Washington are close to doing a deal on stimulus. House Democrat leader Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke yesterday but failed to reach agreement on a fresh stimulus package.

Negotiations are due to resume today and whilst the mood seems to be better, getting agreement so close to the election will be tough but not impossible.

The S&P 500 rose 1.8% to close at the high of the day above the  3,400 level but the intra-day high at 3,428 from Sep 16th remains the top of the channel that bulls will look to take out – failure here may call for a retreat towards the middle of the range again.

Stimulus hopes will drive sentiment, but election risk is also a factor. Vix futures for Oct at $30.86 compared with November’s $32.23.

European markets turned lower in early trade on Tuesday as bulls failed to follow through on the relief rally on Monday – still very much range bound.

As noted last week the key is the 3300 level on the Stoxx 50 and 6,000 on the FTSE 100 to signal the market has broken the range. The S&P 500 is closer to doing it.

Benchmark yields rose firmly with 10-year Treasuries breaking out of the recent dull range towards 0.80%, settling at 0.77% near 4-month highs. The 30-year yield also hit its highest since Jun 9th.

With polling and odds improving for a Democrat clean sweep, the market is starting to price in more aggressive stimulus, greater issuance and bigger deficits. Fed chair Jay Powell speaks later today about the US economic outlook at the National Association of Business Economics annual meeting.

Cable eyes Brexit latest Brexit headlines

Brexit talks rumble on – are we closer to a deal? Deadlines are fast approaching and on the whole it seems more likely than not that we at least see a skinny deal or sorts.

EC vice president Maros Sefcovic has been on the wires this morning underlining that ‘full and timely’ implementation of the withdrawal agreement is not up for debate. The British Parliament and government say otherwise.

Meanwhile the European Parliament is not budging on its demands over the EU budget – whilst the recovery fund was announced to much fanfare, it needs to be delivered for Europe’s economy to recover more quickly than it is.

Democrats to target tech giants

Big tech stocks need monitoring after reports that a Democrat-led House panel will call for an effective breakup of giants like Apple, Amazon and Alphabet. It comes after a long anti-trust investigation by the panel led by Democratic Representative David Cicilline.

If approved and legislation is enacted, it would be the most significant reform in this area since Teddy Roosevelt. Certainly, the concentration of capital in a handful of big tech stocks is worrisome for lots of reason. Even if approved, getting from draft to legislation will not be easy. However, if there were a Democrat clean sweep, it could open the door to some aggressive reforms.

As I noted over a year ago, given that the FAANGs have been at the front of the market expansion in recent years, any breakup or threat of it may act as a drag on broader market sentiment. Calls have been growing louder and louder for the authorities to at least look at antitrust issues for the tech giants.

Political pressure is building – lawmakers sniff votes in tackling big tech. The shift really happened two years ago with the Facebook scandals, which really broke the illusion that Silicon Valley is in it for the little guy.

AUDUSD sinks on dovish RBA meeting

The Reserve Bank of Australia left interest rates on hold, refraining from a cut below 0.25% but maintaining a decidedly dovish bias that still indicates a further cut may occur this year.

The RBA said it will keep monetary policy easy “as long as is required” and will not increase the cash rate target until progress is being made towards full employment and it is confident that inflation will be sustainably within the 2–3% target band. It kept its options open and stressed that it will continue to consider additional monetary easing.

After a decent run since the Sep 25th low AUDUSD was smacked down from its 50-day SMA at 0.7210 to trade around 0.7150. Currently contained by its 50- and 100-day SMAs.

The dollar index broke the horizontal support and the 21-day SMA, with the price action testing the trendline off the September lows. After the RSI trend breach and the MACD bearish crossover flagged yesterday was confirmed. 50-day SMA around 93.25 is the next main support.

The softer dollar gave some support to GBPUSD as it tests the top of the range and big round number and Fibonacci resistance at 1.30 this morning. Markets are also pushing back expectations for negative rates in the UK, which may be feeding through to a stronger pound.

Brexit risks remain but the odds of a deal seem to be better than evens, at least a ‘skinny’ deal that keeps dollar-parity wolves from the door.

The weaker dollar, higher inflation outlook is pushing up gold prices, which have broken above $1,900 but faces immediate resistance at the 21-day SMA on $1,916. Yesterday’s potential MACD bullish crossover has been confirmed.

Sterling’s RoRo Yo-Yo day

Brexit

The pound endured some wild whipsaws today on a range of Brexit headlines. First sterling slid through the morning as the EU lodged its legal complaint over the internal market bill. GBPUSD hit the LOD at 1.2820 by 10am.

But then GBPUSD rallied aggressively through 1.295 on reports officials were close to entering the tunnel, with the FT’s Whitehall correspondent quoting one as saying: ‘We’ve gone from about 30% chance of a deal to the other way around. I think it’s almost certain we’ll enter the tunnel.’ The implication that officials see a 70% likelihood of a deal got sterling bulls running the stops.

Sterling pushed up to a fresh two-week high, but the 1.30 round number was not tested as the rally ran out of legs at 1.2980. The 1.30 level is the big horizontal and Fibonacci resistance to unlock the move to the mid-1.30s once a Brexit deal is signed.

However, cable was back down almost one big figure again, taking a 1.28 handle after an EU official said there is no sign of a landing zone on fisheries, or level playing field. At send time GBPUSD was sitting on the 1.29 round number around the mid-point for the day.

What we learned from this:

Sterling is on the hook to some wild price swings on headlines, which we knew would be the case. No one wants to try 1.30 unless there are more concrete rumours from ‘sources’. Talks wrap up tomorrow – more market-moving headlines to come.

Twitter is a very good source of information for trading – cable shot higher a couple of minutes after the initial 70/30% tweet. Algos were slow to respond for once – shows they don’t read Twitter very well – yet (H/T @PriapusIQ).

It does seem like there are tentative signs of ‘progress’ despite all the chuntering around the internal market bill, which looks increasingly like a sideshow to the main event of trade talks.

In short, a deal seems more likely than not. I’ve moved from 60/40 to 50/50 after the IMB to back to 60/40 again.

Equity markets hungover ahead of Presidential debate + Brexit breakthrough?

Morning Note

There is the whiff of a hangover for investors this morning as European shares stumbled after an exuberant rally in the previous session that left the major bourses around 2-3% higher to start the week. We haven’t made it back to the key mid-Sep levels and bulls may be looking at downside risks in the shape of the slowing economic recovery and pre-election jitters.

Nancy Pelosi and Steve Mnuchin may be able to cut one last stimulus deal before the election, but it still looks like the odds of it passing the House and Senate are less than evens.

The FTSE 100 and DAX both fell 1% and the failure by bulls to build any momentum from these one-day bounces is a sign of tepid sentiment.

First presidential debate in focus

It’s all going to kick off later tonight, as the first US presidential debate takes place in Cleveland. The fun starts at 9pm US eastern time and will last one and a half hours. Trump won in Ohio, a typical battleground rust belt state, by eight points last time around but it is leaning towards Biden in 2020, according to the polls.

But we know polls only tell a portion of the story – it’s in the battlegrounds where it counts.

JPM did an investor survey of potential election outcomes – 79% said the worst-case scenario is a Democrat president and Senate, whilst 49% said the best case would be a Republican president and Senate.

We know which way Wall Street is leaning, but there is not a clear sense that the result will materially impact the course of equity markets. As discussed last week, whilst a Democrat clean sweep – the Blue-nami – would mean higher taxes and regulation, other factors may play into the bulls’ favour, notably the chance of a comprehensive fiscal package.

More importantly, the global recovery from the pandemic, the Fed and earnings will be key drivers for equities after the election. The only thing the market wants is to get the election out of the way – the real danger to near-term valuations would be a long period of legal disputes post-election, which may mean price action continues to chop sideways within the range set in the second half of September.

Vix futures are starting to look interesting again with the spread from Oct to Nov widening to $2 with the near month trading at $31 and November at $33, with December at $31.

Sterling up on hopes of breakthrough in Brexit talks

Brexit breakthrough? Hopes of a deal are on the up, amid reports that the EU is prepared to ditch its requirement to reach a broad agreement before drafting a text. This means they can start on the joint legal text whilst there are still a few outstanding issues that need to be resolved.

This has positive overtones, but the two sides still appear no closer on these critical last steps.  European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic said yesterday: “The UK’s positions are far apart from what the EU can accept.”

Sterling drove to a two-week high, with GBPUSD rising to 1.29 before paring gains to sit around 1.2850 this morning.

Bank of England deputy governor warns over negative rates

But it the rally was less about Brexit than it was about comments from Dave Ramsden, the deputy governor of the Bank of England, who sounded a strong sound of caution over negative interest rates. The MPC seems to be airing its dirty laundry in public – the comments came only a day after Silvana Tenreyro pointedly backed negative rates.

Anyways it looks there is some clear ideological disputes among rate setters that needs to be worked out over the autumn, implying as Andrew Bailey suggested last week that negative rates are not likely on the near horizon, albeit they are being considered actively.

The problem for the Bank would be an unemployment crisis into Christmas that could put pressure on the MPC to act.

The dollar peeled off its recent two-month highs in the 94.60 region which is offering the near-term resistance. The pullback called for last week has been slow to emerge with a couple of retests of this level but near-term weakness is certainly becoming more evident.

Elsewhere, oil markets remain trapped in a tight range but could be heading for a pullback as global inventories start to build. API numbers later today, EIA numbers on tap Wednesday. Watch the Chinese numbers too as global inventories swing to builds.

Surging cases numbers cripple demand, whether rational or not. Contango spreads indicate softer demand and inventory builds ahead. The price action alone on WTI is a not a pretty picture for bulls.

Coming up, there is a slew of Fed speakers later today with Clarida, Quarles, Harker and Williams on the slate. Richard Clarida is probably the most important, with the Fed governor due to speak on Future Considerations for Treasury Market Resilience. Meanwhile, the Treasury market is completely dead as yields remain trapped in their tight ranges.

Chart: The S&P 500 is still trapped by the moving averages

The market rallied 1.6% on Monday and ran slap into the 50-day SMA, shy of the 21-day SMA. We have to see whether this marks the swing high and calls for another pullback.

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